UN approves a Decade of Action to combat global road safety crisis 

Make Roads Safe Global Ambassador, Michelle Yeoh, addresses the UN General Assembly 
Make Roads Safe Global Ambassador, Michelle Yeoh, addresses the UN General Assembly
l-r Dr Etienne Krug, Director of Injury Prevention at WHO, Michelle Yeoh, General Victor Kiryanov, Head of the State Traffic Police of the Russian Federation, and David Ward, Director General of the FIA Foundation, at a press conference following the UN General Assembly

The United Nations has today agreed that 2011-2020 will be the global Decade of Action for Road Safety, in a landmark victory for the FIA Foundation’s Make Roads Safe campaign.

The UN has acted in the face of a rapidly escalating road safety crisis. Each year 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads, and the death toll is set to rise dramatically over the next decade unless action is taken. Developing countries are particularly badly affected, accounting for 90% of global fatalities.

The proposal for a Decade of Action was first made by the Make Roads Safe campaign, led by the FIA Foundation, which launched an international advocacy effort to win support from UN members. The UN Decade provides the opportunity for coordinated and sustained road safety programmes to be initiated by international donors working together with national agencies in the countries worst affected by poor road safety.

According to some of the world’s leading road safety experts, a significant coordinated effort of this kind has the potential to save five million lives and to prevent fifty million serious injuries by 2020.

The Resolution passed today by the UN General Assembly describes the toll of death and injury from road crashes as “a major public health problem...which, if unaddressed, may affect the sustainable development of countries and hinder progress towards the Millennium Development Goals”.

Make Roads Safe Global Ambassador, international movie actor Michelle Yeoh, addressed the UN General Assembly during the debate:

“Every day at least 2000 children, of school age, are killed or seriously injured on the world’s roads. All the forecasts point to this toll doubling in the coming years. By making road safety a priority over the next decade we have the potential to save millions of lives, and to prevent many millions of injuries and disabilities. This UN Decade of Action for Road Safety provides us with a real opportunity to change direction.”

Chairman of the Make Roads Safe campaign, former NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, said:

“The international community has at last woken up to the global road death epidemic. Now we must ensure the good intentions of the UN are translated into action on the killer roads of developing countries. Success in this Decade of Action will be measured only in terms of the lives that are ultimately saved.”

Welcoming the decision of the UN General Assembly to approve a UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, Carlos Macaya, Chairman of the FIA Foundation, and David Ward, Director General of the FIA Foundation, issued the following statement:

“The FIA Foundation is delighted to see several years of advocacy by a wide range of road safety partners resulting in the approval of a Decade of Action. Since 2002 the FIA Foundation has contributed in excess of $27 million to global road safety advocacy, projects and programmes. Major initiatives that the Foundation has either provided significant funding support for and/or has established include the following:

  • The WHO’s Five Year Strategy for Road Traffic Injury Prevention
  • The 2004 WHO/ World Bank ‘World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention’
  • The 2004 World Health Day on the theme ‘Road Safety is No Accident’
  • The 2007 UN Global Road Safety Week on the theme of young road users
  • The UN Road Safety Collaboration and its good practice guides
  • The World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility
  • The Commission for Global Road Safety and its 2006 and 2009 reports
  • The Make Roads Safe Campaign and the ‘Call for a Decade of Action for Road Safety’
  • 2007 African Road Safety Conference held in Accra, Ghana
  • The International Road Assessment Programme
  • The 2008 OECD/ITF Report ‘Towards Zero, Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System Approach
  • Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative
  • 2009 ‘Turning Point’ road safety documentary featuring Michelle Yeoh
  • 2009 UN Ministerial Conference on Global Road Safety held in Moscow on November 19-20

“The FIA Foundation looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively with our many partners in the road safety community and beyond to contribute towards a successful Decade of Action, resulting in the saving of many lives and the prevention of many injuries.”

Download the UN Decade of Action resolution: Improving global road safety (PDF) >

Watch Michelle Yeoh address the UN General Assembly and Dr Etienne Krug, Director of Injury Prevention at WHO, speaking at a press conference following the debate >

Download the BBC World Service interview with Michelle Yeoh (MP3 6.8mb) >

Read the Lord Robertson's op-ed in The Times newspaper>